Tuesday, April 30, 2024

For May Day (Beltane)

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

This is the eve of Beltane (or May Day) in the northern hemisphere. The word is Scots Gaelic in origin and marks the beginning of summer. Below the equator, this is the eve of Samhain (also Scots Gaelic) meaning "summer's end".  As we northerners drift toward warmth and light, our southern kin are drifting toward the dark half of the year.

Nights are are still cool, and it will be another week or two until full colonies of bloodroot are up and blooming, but early specimens lift their gold and white heads in protected nooks here and there in the woods. In other years, wild yellow orchids were in bloom right about now, but it will be a while before they put in an appearance, soon to be followed by trout lilies, columbines and hepatica.

Bloodroot flowers are breathtaking, and the shy white blooms with their golden centers are dear to my heart, something of a seasonal marker. Encountering this one glowing in its flickering, stone-warmed alcove, I felt like kneeling and kissing the good dark earth where the flower made its home—it was that perfect. Ignoring painful and protesting knees, down I went in the dead leaves and stayed there for quite a while, nose to nose with the dear little wonder and happy as a clam. Getting up again was quite an undertaking.

The interval was one of the wild epiphanies I love so much, especially in springtime when the north woods are just coming to life. Call it a moment of kensho, one of those fleeting intervals of grace, quiet knowing and connection that I like to call "aha" moments. Forget the fancy stuff - this is the ground of my being. As long as I can spend time with trees and rocks and wildflowers, I can handle the big life "stuff", most of the time anyway. Add lakes, loons, cormorants, herons and sunsets to the equation, please. Also geese, trumpeter swans and cranes.

Happy Beltane (or May Day), everyone. May there be light and blooming and fragrance in your own precious life, in your particular corner of the great wide world. Wherever you make your home on the hallowed earth, may all good things come to you at this turning of the wheel in the Great Round.

1 comment:

francesray.substack.com said...

Happy Merry Month of May to you, dear Cate. Reading this beautiful piece was a blessing for which I am most grateful.